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Monday
Jan312011

Good Riddance

I’m celebrating the end of January. After January, we’re on the upside of winter: three months down and three months to go. Our shortest day, back on December 21, was just over 5 1/2 hours long; today was nearly eight. That’s a difference in daylight that we can see.

I used to look forward to the cold, dark days of January. It was a good time for relaxing by the fire and working on a big jigsaw puzzle. But I’ve developed an allergy to pine, the only firewood available, so relaxing by a warm fire is out.

I did start to put together a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle of a Van Gogh painting. I made it half way through before the cat pushed a puzzle piece onto the floor for the pup to chew, and by chew, I mean he made it into something that looks like a piece of used chewing gum. Now I can’t decide whether to go ahead and finish the puzzle or not. I only put a puzzle together so that when it’s finished I can spend a few days rubbing my hands across it’s perfectly put together pieces. This one ain’t gonna work for that.

Today there was a wild wind. Youngest son took the dogs on a short walk and came back with his cheeks burning. But tomorrow, the first day of February, will be several degrees above freezing.

It’s too bad the passage of time does nothing for a chewed puzzle piece.

Sunday
Jan302011

Sunday's Hymn

Jesus Paid It All

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”

Refrain

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

And now complete in Him
My robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.

When from my dying bed
My ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
Shall rend the vaulted skies.

And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down
All down at Jesus’ feet. 

Some hymns have an overabundance of YouTube videos to chose from and this is one of them. Here’s my favorite—a simple piano rendition.

 

There’s also a choral arrangement that shows up in a few videos, one of which is a performance during some sort of patriotic celebration in a Baptist church (I’m agin’ such things), and the other a Baptist youth choir performance, which, unfortunately, includes barefoot interpretive dancers (something else I’m not fond of). Here’s the youth choir, minus video, so don’t have to watch the girls. (If you want to hear the same arrangement done by adults dressed in red, white, and blue, go here.)

As long as I’m pointing out other videos of performances of Jesus Paid It All, I liked this saxophone perfomance, too.

And little Lilly:

Other hymns, worship songs, sermons etc. posted today:

Have you posted a hymn (or sermon, sermon notes, prayer, etc.) today and I missed it? Let me know by leaving a link in the comments or by contacting me using the contact form linked above, and I’ll add your post to the list.

Friday
Jan282011

No Hemming, Hawing and Tiptoeing Around

After yesterday’s quoted passage, J. Mack Stiles goes on to give us the rest of the bad news:

We are treasonous rebels who, without constraints, would murder and destroy God himself to establish ourselves in his place (John 19:15). … What awaits us—what we’ve all earned—is hell.

Does that offend you? Are you angry at these comments? Do you say, “It’s not true. I’ve never been in rebellion with God! It can’t be that bad. I’m a good person. What about Ghandi? I love God; we’re friends; I’m spiritual; ‘my God’ would never say such things.”

But I contend that if this news, this bad news, offends rather than humbles, you are the one most in danger. For it’s not said to offend but to instruct and to warn about a reality—the same warning my doctor might bring of a grave illness, but with far, far greater consequences.

…I am well aware of the umbrage people take at such news, Christians included. But why? Doesn’t our offense only point to our self-centeredness and self-righteousness? Those very sins we most hate in others?

Actually, our offense convinces me of its truth. The older I get, the less I feel compelled to avoid the subject by hemming, hawing and tiptoeing around, and the more I want people to open their eyes.

From Marks of the Messenger: Knowing, Living and Speaking the Gospel.

Thursday
Jan272011

Round the Sphere Again: Evangelism

Its a Tough Sell
I’m reading Marks of the Messenger: Knowing, Living and Speaking the Gospel by J. Mack Stiles, a book on evangelism that I first heard about from a recommendation in a lecture by D. A. Carson. It’s a little book; I read a quarter of it in half an hour this evening. When I’m finished, I may review it; but meanwhile, here’s a quote on the bad news before the good news:

Have you heard people say that Christianity is a crutch? They’re far too optimistic. We don’t need crutches; we need spiritual defibrillators. The fact is, we were born rotten sinner to the cors. We may be upright physicaly, but spiritually, we’re dead on arrival. Left to ourselves we have no hope (Romans 5:19; Ephesians 2:1,12)

It’s not that we can’t do loving or even amazing things—after all, long ago we were made in the image of God. But these are fleeting and inconsistent moments, and no part of anything we do remains untainted by sin (Luke 18:19; Romans 7:18). We think acts of worldly goodness can mask sin, but they only add to our debt since worldly good deeds fill us with superficial self-righteous pride (Isaiah 64:6), as if we could smile our way out of treason. Our own meager good works could never help us avoid the death sentence that has been pronounced on us. We are chained to sin; we can’t help but sin, for it is in our nature (Romans 7:5). And this sin cuts us off from God. In our natural state we rebel against God and all his ways (Isaiah 59:2; Ephesians 4:18)— and this wickedness spits in the face of God (Isaiah 50:6; Mark 14:65). We are as attractive to God as a corpse at a dinner party (Matthew 23:17).

Tough sell, huh?

That’s one hard package to market. After all, it’s not exactly the generous orthodoxy that speaks to the postmodern world today. Not exactly a message that’s going to win friends and influence people, you say. Since this message is difficult to swallow, you can see why pragmatic evangelists leave it out and focus on other parts of the message.

But wait, there’s more…

Maybe I’ll tell you what the more is tomorrow. Here’s a hint: It’s more bad news.

For Those of Us Who Struggle
A list of resources to help “encourage and equip Christians to share the good news of Jesus Christ” from  John Starke at The Gospel Coalition Blog.

An Example to Follow
Dusman reports on the outreach conversations he had on a college campus (Triablogue). This time the discussion starter question was, “In your personal opinion what does it take for a person to go to heaven?”

Thursday
Jan272011

Thankful Thursday

A couple of days ago I noticed a charge on my online credit card statement that I couldn’t remember making. I do  online shopping at the Apple Store, and sometimes I can be forgetful, so I checked my Apple account to see what I’d ordered recently. There was nothing there. I called the credit card company to dispute the charge, only to find that their had been recent authorizations for other fraudulent  online orders, including one at Amazon.ca for $700. These latest purchases just hadn’t shown up yet on my statement. Coincidentally, or maybe not, at the same time the same credit card company red-flagged my son’s business card because of online purchases made for airline tickets in Europe, among other things. So we both had to cut up our cards and have new ones issued. Its been an annoyance and a little unsettling, but really, not much more than that, and for that I am thankful. I am thankful that it was all so easy to take care of.

I’m thankful for online credit card statements which help me keep track of things, and for online shopping in general. I’d hate to go back to the days when I had to buy everything at stores here in town. There were always a lot of things that just weren’t available, and would have to be bought on trips to other cities or not bought at all. Over the winter, we’d save up lists of things we needed to buy when we were outside (That’s Yukon-speak for down south.) in the summer, and then we’d spend half our holiday time shopping. But no more, and woohoo for that.

Just this week, the belt broke in the power nozzle of my vacuum, so I ordered a new one online for $9.00. Ten years ago, that fix would have been a lot more difficult and maybe impossible. Online shopping is a good gift, both for me and for my son, who is constantly ordering things for his business that he would not be able to get otherwise.

I’m thankful for our continued warmer weather, which also make life easier and better. I’m thankful that the big job cleaning and rearranging the kitchen cupboard is done. I’m thankful for a few good books in my reading line-up and beef barley soup in the crock-pot.

In case you think I have only small things to be thankful for, let me say that I’ve got at least two big items of praise that I’d be unwise to post publicly.

I’m thankful that our God is a God who works in both small things and big things, so that we can thank him for everything because it all comes from his hand.

 Throughout this year I’m planning to post a few thoughts of thanksgiving each Thursday along with Kim at the Upward Call and others.